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CD REVIEW: Philip Vandermost - Automatic August
By Chip Withrow - 10/20/2008 - 07:50 PM EDT

Artist: Philip Vandermost
Album: Automatic August
Genre: Pop/Rock
Sounds Like: Matthew Sweet, U2, Squeeze
Production/Musicianship Grade: 10/10
Commercial Value: 9/10
Overall Talent Level: 10/10
Songwriting Skills: 9/10
Performance Skill: 10/10
Best Songs: Speak To Me, Since Mountains Have Risen, Carry On, Drifting
CD Review: Last weekend turned out to be perfect for Philip Vandermost’s melodic rock. A Saturday stretched out before me, the sun was high in the sky and I cued up this set full of punchy and hook-filled songs.

On Automatic August, Vandermost sings and plays all instruments but drums – Jim Moreland provides the rock steady beat. Vandermost wrote or co-wrote all the songs, often with the help of lyricist Robert Fulton. Vandermost also did the mixing, and this is one of the most expertly blended discs I’ve heard lately.

The guitar-drenched “Speak to Me,” “So Hi,” and “Time After Time” remind me of the string of great Matthew Sweet songs from the mid-‘90s, laced with the arena rock presence of U2. “Climb Aboard” rides along on a nice acoustic guitar-and-piano groove, calling to mind Squeeze and Crowded House. “Because” is also piano-heavy, a pleasing mid-tempo ballad with a confident vocal.

Vandermost delivers several folk-rock statements. “Raining Mondays” has a loping, almost countrified feel. “Carry On” is a positive message delivered with wonderful vocal harmonies. “Since Mountains Have Risen” starts gently and then soars into chiming guitars and an anthemic chorus.

Vandermost saves one of the best for last: the driving, peppy “Drifting.” He closes the song triumphantly by nailing his guitar solo

Automatic August is a pleasing, diverse set of sophisticated yet definitely hooky rock. And I discovered that it plays pretty nicely on a Sunday and Monday, too.

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